Do your students struggle with spelling? Writing is the time when I really want my students to use all their strategies to spell a word. Also they can use all their resources. This is one reason I love using personal dictionaries or word books. Students can look up a word to see if it is on the word list and if they can't find it, they can ask a friend to help them spell it. Lastly, they can bring me their book and I will write it in their book. I always ask my students, "Did you use all your resources first?" Then I will help them. Personal dictionaries can be a powerful tool to help your writers. I often see young writer's struggle because they don't know how to spell a word, this is just one tool that can help them over that block!

Word you love a copy of my Personal Word Books? I have two versions, full page format and half page format (you can print two to a page) Click the picture to get your copy:


Ready to jump into Literature Circles but don't know where to start? Check out this list of Do's and Don'ts to get you going! 

Do: Literature Circles should be reader response driven! Not teacher driven. With a little modeling and practice, students can meet and discuss their books without the teacher driving the discussion. The teacher can provide questioning stems and guidelines to help students. However, Literature Circle time should be structured for student independence, responsibility and ownership.

Don't: Literature Circle time is not unstructured, or "talk time" without holding students accountable for their work. Students should be prepared for their group before they meet.

Do: Give students choice in the books they are going to read. Pick 3 or 4 different titles, give a book talk to get students excited, and then let them choose which book they want to read!

Don't: So, don't always choose the books for the students. Also, this may go against conventional thinking but try not assigning roles. There is a model of Literature Circles, where each student in the group is assigned a role (Summarizer, Questioner, Vocabulary Person, etc.) This might help structure the groups but ultimately it could limit an organic and authentic conversation about the book. What if I am a student who has a question or inference about the story but my role is Summarizer? 

Do: Use the text as a basis for applying reading and writing skills in context. Give students a purpose for their discussion, are you studying character's actions? Setting? Point of view, all your required standards can be met during their Literature Circle discussions. 

Don't: Use literature circles to do skills work or unnecessary worksheets. Would you love to read a chapter book if you knew you were going to have to answer 10 questions about every chapter? Probably not! Use your literature circle time to foster the love of reading, making connections to the text and practicing discussion skills. You can have students work in a booklet to be accountable for their reading and I'll share an example at the end of the post! (And I'll share a great freebie!)

Do: Choose texts with a variety of levels to meet the needs of all your readers. It's OK to choose books all on one theme or idea, like Black History month. If you have trouble finding 5 or 6 copies of a book, ask your fellow teachers and pool your resources. Check out your local libraries and thrift stores like Good Will. I find tons of great chapter books at Good Will.

Don't: Be mindful of how long the chapter book is! Depending on the level of your students, really long chapter books may be hard for your groups to stay committed to.

Ready to get started? Download this free some free posters and a planning sheet:
How about another great resource to get you going? Literature Circles Made Easy might just be the thing you need! Click the picture to get started:

Spiral Review has been a critical part of my day. The very first reason why I love spiral review is purely management. I don't like a chaotic morning. I feel like it just starts the day off wrong. So math spiral review is my go-to morning work. It is predictable, students know what to do right away and it gets them "down to business" right from the start. But in case you're not sold on spiral review, I've get a few excellent reasons why it should be an important part of your day.
An important characteristic of spiral review is the frequency of exposure to skills. Research shows that  students with higher exposure to content, and the time to practice the content, understand the material better when compared to students who receive less exposure. 
Spiral review requires students to retrieve the skill from their long term memory which leads to a more complex thought process. Students move mathematical skills into their long term memory by repeatedly practicing those skills. They then have that knowledge and can build on it for more complex problems.
For spiral review to be effective it does not have to take a long amount of time. There should only be a few problems presented each day. I have my students write their answers on white boards, they do this as their morning work before the bell. You could also use spiral review questions as an activating strategy before your math block.  
By checking the spiral review problems altogether, it gives students time to reflect on mastery of the skill. Did they get the correct answer? What did they do wrong? How can they fix their work?
One important part of reviewing the math problems together is to address student misconceptions. I walk around as students are finishing up to observe who has the correct answers, who is struggling. I can make a mental note to go over that with the student in small group. Or if I see a pervasive error across many students, I address it as we are reviewing.

Are you already a fan of Spiral Review? I have done all the work for you! These monthly spiral review problems are perfect for 2nd or 3rd grades. They are completely editable! Yes, you can change the problems by changing the numbers or even deleting ones your students are not ready for. They come in Powerpoint and Google Slide formats. Everything you need to start your Daily Spiral Review routine.



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